Last night I took part in an extraordinary event in Musselburgh Grammar School. Organised by Maya, a pupil in S4, One World Night featured an imaginative mix of pupil performance and presentations on humanitarian themes by guest speakers and pupils of MGS and Campie Primary School. The event was warmly compèred by Fiona O’Donnell, MP for East Lothian.
MGS Orchestra opened with the Prelude from Charpentier’s Te Deum, followed by an arrangement of Over The Rainbow. John Cunningham then gave a presentation on the work of Mercy Corps. MGS Guitar Group performed Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra before Katherine and Roanna described the work of the MGS Amnesty Group and the necessity of speaking out against injustice.
After the interval, six pupil members the local branch of the Alpha Dance Academy gave a fantastic performance of Jai Ho from the film, Slum Dog Millionaire. This was an energetic and impressive mix of Indian and en pointe styles.
P7 pupils from Campie PS spoke eloquently about the school’s links with a Burmese refugee school (CDC) in Thailand, and also about the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi. Having listened to an edition of Radio 4’s Word of Mouth earlier in the week in which schools in the U.S. were praised for nurturing confidence in public speaking, I couldn’t help feeling that Campie’s presentations were as confident and capable as it was possible to find. On this note, I also couldn’t help noticing some of my P6 pupils from Campie listening intently throughout the evening – an impressive counter to current worries about young people’s attention span.
Edinburgh based lawyer, Alison Smith talked about the Dalit (Untouchable caste) in India. I had no idea that so many people suffered such exclusion – 150 million – that’s 30 Scotlands!
Shirley gave a heartfelt performance of Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia, accompanied on guitar by Amy. The final presentation by Susan Dalgety (vice-chair of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership) described Scotland’s historic links with Malawi.
In her vote of thanks at the evening’s close, Maya informed us that £264 had been raised during the evening. This had been a moving mix of entertainment, information and philanthropy. I was particularly indebted to my pupils at MGS. As a result of the holidays and the itinerant nature of my work, they were asked only on the previous Friday if they would be free and willing to take part. Almost all were able to make it, happy to be there and engaged by all the speakers.